Get Smokin Dominates For 19-1 Kentucky Turf Cup Upset, Secures Breeders’ Cup Turf Berth

Get Smokin had things is own way Saturday at Kentucky Downs as he made all the pace and won $1.7-million FanDuel Kentucky Turf Cup (G2) in a tour de force performance

Under Fernando De La Cruz, the 6-year-old Get Stormy gelding trained by Mark Casse went to the front at the start and was pursued by Santin throughout. Into the stretch he dug in to notch clear victory by 1 3/3 lengths, covering 1 1/2 miles in 2:28.66. Get Smokin clocked all the fractions–:24 flat for the opening quarter mile, :49.61 for the half, 14.18 for six furlongs and 1:37.99 for the mile.

Sent away 19-1 odds, Get Smokin paid $41.14 and collected $$972,220 winner’s share of the purse, lifting his lifetime purse earnings to $1,650,497.

In a race for second, Spooky Channel edged Santin by a head for the runner-up spot. Santin finished a nose in front of Red Knight in fourth while Verstappen was another half length back in fifth in the 12-horse field.

With the win, Get Smokin earned an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) Nov. 4 at Santa Anita as Saturday’s race is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge ‘Win and You’re In’ series.

The win was the sixth in 27 lifetime starts for Get Smokin, whose previous graded stakes victories were 2021 and 2022 editions of the Tampa Bay Stakes (G3), and 2020 Hill Prince (G2). He came into Saturday’s race with a pair of runner-up finishes: the Arlington (G3) June 3 at Churchill Downs and Wise Dane (G2) July 1 at Ellis Park as well as a fourth in the KY Down Preview Turf Cup Aug. 6 at Ellis Park as his springboard to Saturday’s dominating performance.

Get Smokin is campaigned by Ironhorse Racing Stable LLC, BlackRidge Stables LLC, T-N-T Equine Holdings LLC, and Saratoga Seven Partners LLC. Bred in Kentucky by Hurstland Farm and James Greene Jr., his dam is the Smoke Glacken mare Hookah Lady. Hurstland Farm offered him at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale, where Mary A. Sullivan bought him for $11,000.

Kentucky Turf Cup Quotes

Trainer Mark Casse, 1st, Get Smokin (by phone from Lexington) – “It really worked out good. I have to hand it to Harlan (Harlan Malter, managing partner of Ironhorse Racing Stable, co-owner). It was his idea and you know, sometimes you have to step out o the box and be willing to do it. What a horse he is! We have had him a couple of years and he is something. He gives you everything he has every time he runs. I knew he was in a good rhythm. Fernando rode him perfectly.

“I am excited for the owners but I am more excited for the horse.

“Going to the lead, that was the strategy. That’s the way he runs. We felt we would establish a big lead and hope that everyone else would think he could not go that far. Guess what? He did. I am almost speechless. I watched him and he kept on running. Larry (track announcer Collmus) kept saying ‘They might not catch him.’ I have always said that a mile and a half is a differently run race. I see a lot of horses that can not go that far.”

“I have often told Harlan that he is the craziest owner I train for. But this was not a crazy idea.

“I don’t know what is next. I just want to enjoy this one. We’ll talk to Harlan and the rest of the owners. We want to enjoy this. It’s a great win for a really good horse who gives you everything.”

Jason Barkley, trainer, runner-up Spooky Channel: “He tried every  inch of the way. He ran a big race. I thought I would (run down the winner). He just kept trying (but) the track has been favoring speed. James did a good job getting to the rail, which is the best part of the track today. Ran big. Very proud of him.”

Note: Barkley is leaving training to pursue other endeavors in horse racing. Asked when he’s leaving, he said, “Well, I guess after he’s done running. I guess we’ll have one more stop on the farewell tour.”

Trainer Brendan Walsh, 3rd, Santin, 5th Verstappen  – “That is the way the track has been playing all day, really. It played out exactly the way I thought it would and my two were right behind him the whole way. We have no excuses. You can’t take anything away from the winner. He ran his race and we didn’t get him.”

Fernando De La Cruz, 1st Get Smokin (winning his first $1 million+ race): “We talked with Harlan and Mark. (They said) “just take him to the lead and see what happens.” It’s a mile and a half, a long way to go. But the horse is a really nice horse. He just kept going, kept going. Thanks to God I got it done.”

(Does he ride much for Mark?) “Not really. The owner, I went with him in 2018 to the Breeders’ Cup. That’s the reason I got (the mount).”

Co-owner Harlan Malter (Get Smokin): “He’s an absolute dream to own. He just lays it out for you every single time. I think he was just screaming for the humans to come up with a plan for him. We made a plan. Fernando won two Grade 2s for us on Bucchero, and we knew he was the man for the job. Watching the race, he did it to a tee. Look, I give it all to the horse, Mark, David. They’ve done an unbelievable job with the horse. The horse is just thriving. I said I want to run in this race, and Mark said to me, ‘You’re one of my crazier owners. This idea, I don’t think is that crazy.’ So I’m glad I have a trainer who is willing to listen to some of my crazy ideas.”

“We bought him and said he’s a really good miler, a pretty good mile and a sixteenth horse. We got to figure out what he’s great at. So we went to Dubai, went six furlongs. That didn’t work out really well. So we said, ‘well there’s probably another distance to him.’ We brought him back this year. Look, he’s a horse that gets caught late. So you think if you keep stretching him out farther, it’s going to be even harder for him to get it. We looked at it the opposite way: We just needed this horse to be able to do what he does best. He gallops at a very high rate of speed, and he has a huge heart. We actually were kind of forcing him to do things he couldn’t do, meaning we were letting him stay too close, and the guys who could close on him were closing on him.

“We looked at this race. We wanted to test out at Ellis (in the 1 1/4 prep). Even though we ran fourth, we were happy. He ran a similar figure to what he was running at a mile and a sixteenth. We were all systems go. We kind of came up with the idea to have Fernando. We made a very specific plan, and it’s amazing how well Fernando executed it.

“Look, they discounted him. Because he hadn’t made it. I saw the handicappers, ‘Well, he couldn’t make it a mile and a quarter, how is he going to make it a mile and a half.’ This horse just has a huge heart, carved out fractions that were workable for him, and they weren’t going to catch him.”

(So now he’s going to the Breeders’ Cup) “Yeah. I will say this: We were not expecting to go to the Breeders’ Cup and the Breeders’ Cup Turf even 30 days ago. But as we got closer to this race, David Carroll, Mark’s assistant at Churchill, his wife (Kim) who does a tremendous amount of work on him, every time I called they said how well he was doing. To have a 6-year-old horse in this type of form and doing this well, David said, ‘Look, all I can tell you is he’s doing unbelievable. Let’s go for the whole thing.’ We’d love to get back to the Breeders’ Cup. The horse deserves that kind of attention. Obviously a very, very tough race to do it your second time going that difference in the Breeders’ Cup.

“This is the biggest race we’ve ever won.”

(What are you thinking at the finish?) “Sometimes I sit there and I think I’m almost frozen, because you almost don’t want to jinx it.  You’re watching the plan come to fruition, watching the horse give absolutely everything. I really probably didn’t move until he was one stride (from the finish) and no one was going to catch him. You can hear my voice. I may not be speaking a lot tomorrow. To have a horse like this that just shows up every day and runs, it’s just a privilege. It’s why we own horses.”

The post Get Smokin Dominates For 19-1 Kentucky Turf Cup Upset, Secures Breeders’ Cup Turf Berth appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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